Aimee and I both tend to start with character and expand outward in our individual writing. When I start with plot, I struggle much more, like I’m forcing puzzle pieces where they don’t belong. I might get them to fit, but they won’t slip in easily, like they do when they’re meant to make a picture.
Clearly, I like my metaphors.
Anyway, I mention this because the story that Aimee and I are writing together this NaNoWriMo started out with plot, which worried both of us. Who are the characters?, we’ve been asking the last few weeks, trying to find those comforting building blocks to balance the rest of The Story on. NaNoWriMo 2011 got closer and closer and still, we were no closer to our characters.
Jamey suggested we start with archetypes and since our story is sci-fi/fantasy and this is a rough, rough draft, it seemed like a good piece of advice. I found a random list of archetypes and sent them to Aimee. I don’t know that either of us actually read most of the list, but the IDEA of archetypes seemed to unlock us a little bit.
Suddenly, we both knew (independently and at the same time) and later confirmed with each other:
Our main characters are sisters. In the face of an apocalypse, the sisters each make a decision that takes them far away from each other. They’re fighting for the same goal from two different directions. They are not going to be together during our book, but will have their own separate adventures and struggles. And because they will miss each other and have a strong sense of the other in her absence, we’ll be able to excavate our characters, to carve them out of the block of dense marble. (Metaphors, addiction, remember?)
These are my thoughts, anyway, having just read Aimee’s Day 1 words, three excellent pages. She may have fewer words than me at the moment (or she did earlier today anyway), but she’s using a finer brush than me. Right now, my strokes are incredibly broad. I’m inspired and excited by her more detailed work on our story.
Word count update to come…
Post-midnight update: I’ve written 939 words today, since getting home from work, bringing my grand NaNoWriMo total to 2,924 (about 400 words short). I’m not sure about Aimee’s total yet because she has been tending to a sick child. Her son gets sick on November 1st every year, without fail. But at least we know this is going to happen every year and that she’s going to win anyway. I don’t like being behind myself, but I’m falling asleep so it’ll just have to stand for the moment.